Browsing Posts published in May, 2011

After all the excitement of the last few days, Saturday was a day of gentle ‘Zen Weeding’.The oca bed before weeding.

I’d set my sights on one of the top-most beds we are growing oca in.  If you single click on the image to the right here, you will see it beforehand.

Quite a mess, you’ll agree, and because the oca is so young and small, it was impossible to simply use a hoe to get all the weeds out.

This meant I had to take a bucket and a prayer mat and get down on my knees and pick out all these weeds by hand.

Several volunteers asked me why I was doing this when there was planting and other much ‘sexier’ jobs on offer, and I had to tell them that for me, this is one of my favourite jobs.Young, delicate oca.

Strange, but true!  When I’m ‘in the mood’, I love nothing more than getting ‘up close and personal’ and sorting out the young weeds from the young and fragile oca.

For me, its a great way to clear my mind of all the ‘junk’ its normally full of, ‘forget my troubles’ and just concentrate on the delicate job in hand.

Okay, I may not actually want to do it before I start, but I tell myself beforehand that I’ll ‘pretend’ I’m enjoying it, and within minutes of starting, I find I am enjoying it.Done!

And here’s the bed once completed.

Okay, at a casual glance, it may look pretty much the same as before, but the main difference is that in a few days time it won’t be full of big weeds, choking the life out of the oca.

While I was busy up at this bed, Diane again welcomed quite a few visitors and new volunteers -the more the merrier!

New Sarah helped Tim with a load of ‘potting on’, Carol arrived with her son and grandchildren, and they did some planting in the ‘Zen Area’, and great fun was had by all.

All too soon it was 4 o’clock and time for me to light the fire for baking potatoes so that by about 5.30pm we were able to rest our weary bones and enjoy the potatoes and some excellent soup made by Sara.Whoops!  These really need weeding...

I strongly suspect there to be a few volunteers there tomorrow, so as soon as I finish this, well, I’ll get changed and head over there -I can feel more weeding coming on, this time in our ‘Zen Area’ and the radishes and spring onions myself and Ian planted a couple of weeks ago.

As you can see here, they certainly need it!

Notice of EGM

We are holding an ‘EGM’ (Extraordinary General Meeting) on Friday the 17th of June, 2011 up at Southey Library at 6.00pm.

This will be to discuss and vote on two things, namely the changing of our constitution and to vote on whether to apply for Charitable Status from the Charities Commission.

Our constitution needs to be changed to fall into line with the Charity Commission’s ‘blueprint’ that all charities have to adopt before consideration.

To see and download a copy of this new constitution, simply move your mouse up to ‘constitution’ and a drop-down will appear and you simply click on that.

Alternatively, you can download it here in ‘Word’ format.

The management committee have worked hard on this, and it is our opinion that this would be a very positive step forward for LEAF and will enable us to apply for funding from many more sources that only give finance to registered charities.  As our funding is due to run out in just a few months, we feel this is of paramount importance to continue the good work that LEAF undertakes.

To help us, we have invited Keith Levy from VAS (Voluntary Action Sheffield) who is an expert in this field to be present.  He will give a brief presentation then will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

This meeting is open to both members and non-members of LEAF, but only members may vote in this matter.

We look forward to seeing you then!

Goosegobs & Parsnips! 25/05/11

Bit different to when I last photographed them, eh?

Actually, given the fact that we’ve had no appreciable rain in the last few months, I’m quite surprised these are growing as well as they are.  I would have expected them to be much smaller, but then the bushes are quite old and must have considerable root systems.

If you do a 180° from the gooseberries, you’ll see some very strange looking flowers on the end of some pretty long vertical stalks.Parsnip flowers.

These are parsnips from last year that’d been left in the ground, this year to flower and hopefully give us some seeds for next year’s parsnip crop.

As Diane says, these give volunteers and visitors a real idea as to where parsnip seeds actually come from, what with parsnips being bi-annual and all.

The bees and ladybirds love them, and the are quite ‘sculptural’ making quite a nice talking point.

So, this afternoon for me was an afternoon of gentle watering.  As previously mentioned, we’ve had no appreciable rain in seemingly months, so our water butts and hosepipe are proving essential -especially with all the young plants and seedlings in.

The new beehives.In my travels this afternoon, I couldn’t help but remember that Jez, our ‘bee-man’ had been earlier in the week to replace the nucs with ‘proper’ beehives, and here you can see the three of them.  Luckily they’re painted in our ‘favourite’ green -purely by accident!

Elsewhere, I checked for damaged caused by the recent high winds, and found plenty on the various bean canes we have scattered around the site.Bean poles after 'repair'.

Here you can see one of the sets of bean poles after I tied the errant -and in some cases completely flattened- young bean plants to the canes using green string.

Give these things a few days and they’ll get the message and start their seemingly inexorable ‘drive towards the sky’ as some of the other ones have already started to do.Climbing beans on their poles.

As you’ll notice here, I’ve given the beans plenty of water today.  Apparently, you can never give beans and peas too much water.  Within limits, obviously.

Pam had arrived at pretty much the same time as me today, and as I gently watered and wandered around, she got down to some planting.  This time it was the turn of the sweetcorn to be planted on the Therapy Plot between two sets of bean poles.

She and Diane carefully ‘marked out’ where they were to go using old canes as straight edges, and the finished result is pretty pleasing to the eye!Newly-planted sweetcorn.

Right in the centre there you can see one of the pots we’d all painted last year with Emma that has miraculously survived through a year, and if you look very closely, you’ll see that it in fact has sweetcorn painted on it.  Pretty fitting!

So tomorrow will be much of the same, though I notice quite a few of the onion beds need ‘micro-weeding’, so that may be a gentle job for me to do.

In case you think that we’re all just sitting back and ‘idling our time away’, waiting for everything to grow and ripen, there’s a Big Lot happening at the moment behind the scenes with the Management Committee that I’ll tell you all about in the coming days and weeks.

Huge changes that show we’re moving in the right direction…

Dig for Victory!

To print out a copy of this poster to put up somewhere visible, simply click on it once, then press ‘print’ from your browser.

An afternoon of madness. 22/05/11

It had all started off so quiet, so normal, but about 11.00am, people just started to show up, then more people, then even more people.

We’d thought it was our recent press coverage in The Sheffield Star newspaper, but the vast majority of them hadn’t seen it.

You can read all about that and see the video slideshow here.

We’d had virtually the whole of page three of last Friday’s paper, and we have a copy, so I’ll endeavour to get it posted as soon as I’m able, though the copy is the same as that for the slideshow.Green City Action's plots.

Amid the chaos of visitors and guests, Diane and I snuck out to the opening of the Green City Action’s new building and rainwater harvesting facility up in the Burngreave area of the city, and here you can see a view of their plots and the new ‘classroom’ at the top of the hill.

Here we were introduced to the new Lord Mayor, Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Dr Sylvia Dunkley, and many other organisers and helpers from the trust.

All too soon we had to leave and head back to the LEAF Plots which were by now awash with visitors.New runner beans.

Pretty soon, they began to drift away and we were left with the ‘hardcore’ LEAF-Heads and some new volunteers, and we quickly got down to work.  Today was yet another ‘Planting Day’ (…which in my opinion, you can never have too many of…), so myself, Pam and New Sarah planted out four more canes of beans down on the Demonstration Plot , and here you can see them freshly planted out and before they were given a good watering-in.

Last year, I’d said that it would be great if we’d had even more beans in, and I also mentioned that I’d like us to grow spring onions.  I love spring onions.The Zen bed.

I forget quite who, but someone said a while ago that I should be careful what I wish for because it may just come true.

Well, I ‘wished’ for beans and spring onions, and this year we’re going to have millions of both.

Oh, and for some reason, radishes!

Above right here you can see our ‘Zen Bed’ just above the Zen area and if you click on the photo, you’ll see radishes a-plenty coming up, and if you look really closely, you’ll just be able to make out the first showing of some spring onions.  You’re only able to see these thanks to Ian who went over this whole bed ‘micro-weeding’ (…with his glasses on!..), pulling out anything tiny, but suspicious.Salad leaves behind bars!

Just in front of this bed is the main Zen area itself, and in front of that is the long bed with salad leaves that had been so cruelly savaged by the birds soon after planting.

Well, here you can see part of that bed ‘safely behind bars’* See Note. to stop the greedy pigeons, and I reckon that we’ll be able to start ‘cropping’ the first of the outer leaves of these by next weekend.  Because there are so many of these plants, it’ll mean that we’ll be pretty much self-sufficient in salad ‘greenery’ right through until autumn time.  Yum!

About half past four, I lit a fire for baked potatoes, and very soon we all had a fire to sit around and chat about the days madness, and more importantly, Diane and others had prepared a great spread of food for us all to enjoy.

So, the overall verdict: Success.

*Note: Though I swear I caught a glimpse of a particularly fat one surrounded by his mates, sniggering, carrying what looked suspiciously like a very small set of oxy-acetylene cutting gear and a miniature pair of welder’s goggles. …But I could have been mistaken in this.

All gone quiet. 21/05/11

Well, it may seem that way, but it really hasn’t.

Unfortunately, I had another really urgent task to complete yesterday, but Ian and Diane were down The Plots, and I’ll no doubt see just what they were up to in a bit.

So, another full day today down at The Plots, with plenty of photos to follow tonight.

Its all gone blurry. 19/05/11

No, not my vision; my recollections of yesterday!

It all started off pretty ‘normal’ for a Plot Day.  Well, as ‘normal’ as any Plot Day can be, but then it all seemed to go haywire and confused.

I know we had loads of visitors and committee members and volunteers and all, but I really can’t for the life of me remember much about the whole proceedings.Testing for the main event.

Luckily, I had my ‘Point and Pray’ camera (…A bit like ‘Point & Shoot’, but for the even less skilled photographer.  Perfect…) and that records times and dates of photos, so I can tell exactly what I was doing at any given time.

Tuesday had been ‘Dress Rehearsal Day’, and I’d taken the bikes over, and Diane had very kindly taken the two electronics boxes and lights over in her car.

Difficult to believe, but everything had worked first time!

Lights: Go.

Charging: Go.

Willing cyclists: Plenty!

After we’d got set up and tested, there was loads of planting to do, both to be ready for the ‘Big Day’, but also because our ‘Hardening Off’ mini-greenhouses were full to bursting with seedlings just begging to be planted in ‘proper’ earth.

We happily obliged, and planted out as much as time allowed.

Yesterday was much of the same, but this time, there was no dress rehearsal.  This was it!

I can remember volunteers coming and going (…and in most cases returning again…), I can remember setting up three of the gazebos, then Ian wandering round with a long tape measure and a determined look in his eye; “We’ll get another one in here right outside the metal shed,” he exclaimed, and it was so!

I can remember visitors arriving, then a photographer from ‘The Sheffield Star’ arrived and took some great photos of Ian, mugging for the camera.Emma on the 'light bike'.

I can then remember a reporter from ‘The Star’ arriving, and Ian giving him ‘The Tour’ (…This is a guided walk round our Plots, pointing out this and that.  It often takes an hour or more, there’s so much to see at the moment…), then the reporter coming back to talk with me, then more visitors, then excellent soup, then a cup of tea (…it had gone cold while I talked, but no matter…), then loads of people trying out both the bikes.  One was the one I’d temporarily blinded people with at the AGM last year, the other was the ‘new’ one that actually charges the battery and lights the ‘main’ light in the gazebos -much more difficult to pedal!

Then I can remember taking shots of the children’s artwork down on the Child Friendly Plot.The kids' Big Artwork.

This one in particular stood out -not least because it is more than life-sized.Cardboard fork and spade.

Then I took a picture of this cardboard fork and spade.  These colourful creations had been carefully painted in by our ‘Plot Kids’ last year and then stored over the winter in the top wooden shed.

It hadn’t yet gone dark, but soon would, so I wasted no time in having another look round and took some shots of the many beans we’d planted during the day.New Beans!

These beans had been planted by Ian in the space where Diane had said we could ‘have a strawberry bed’.  I think she relented after we all refused point blank to actually plant strawberries!  Strawberries on the LEAF Plots are for pulling out and giving away! We have far too many, so are always encouraging people to grab a hand fork and bucket and take as many as they need.

Actually, it was Diane’s idea to plant these beans in such an unusual ‘in and out’ pattern, and Ian duly planted two different varieties alternately, so in a few weeks, we’ll see what happens!More runner beans.

Here you can see the same pattern, but these are all runner beans rather than the climbing french beans we’re so fond of.

Today, Ian and I arrived for ten, and Diane was on an essential First Aid course, so after such a mad few days/weeks, we decided to ‘take it easy’ with some gentle wandering, watering and weeding.

This was just to see if any dreaded slugs had been partying in our crops overnight (…None found!..), pick up any litter left by visitors (…None found!..) and see what needed watering.

What needed watering?  Just about everything!

So, a gentle ‘coda’ after the Big Night, and tomorrow will be much the same, with maybe some sweetcorn being planted.

Anyway, my coach had just turned into a pumpkin (…more on those in the coming weeks!..), so I’d better call it a night.

Until tomorrow!

Verdict: Success! 19/05/11

All the work, all the hours, all the arguments, all the planting, watering and weeding, all the volunteers, all the phone calls, all the cajoling, pleading and coercing, all the planning, all everything…

It all worked!

Last year, as I remember, we’d had a great dry spell for seemingly weeks beforehand, then on the day, it was cold and rainy.  Then nobody showed up.

Not yesterday!

Difficult to believe, but everything just worked last night.

Anyway, I’m due over there in just a few minutes, but before I finish, I must just say a HUGE “Thankyou!!!” to everybody for all their massive efforts and work for making it such a special evening.

There’ll be much more tonight -photos and all.


(…Yes, I know I said I’m trying to avoid that word, but last night really was…)

Dear Blog… 17/05/11

…I know.  I’ve been lax and inattentive over the last couple of days.

Please forgive me.

All I can say is that tomorrow -afternoon and evening is going to be a corker.

Our Plots will be open, in all their glory to the public, we’ll have the bikes generating power and light, we’ll have tour-guides to show people round, we’ll have Plot Tea, we’ll hopefully have Plot Soup and Plot Baked Potatoes, we’ll have… everything we’ve been working for for the last couple of months!

You get my drift.

I will be back very, very soon with all the photos, I promise.

‘Til then!

Monday: Day Off. 16/05/11

Ian and myself have decided that as we have much other stuff to do today, we’d get clear for tomorrow and then Wednesday’s Big Day down The Plots.  Diane, however, is down there right now, and we can’t wait to see just what she’s done today!

So yesterday went to plan.  Quite which plan was anyone’s guess, but it seemed to work out pretty well.Ian's 'Tree-Stump Paintings'.

We’d all arranged to meet for about ten, and after a cup of tea, David (…no ‘New’ preface now…) set about varnishing the tree stump that Ian had painted the other day.  Because Ian had used watercolour paint, it needed two coats of exterior varnish to make it fully ‘water-tight’.

Ian had brought with him more ‘discs’ of thick tree branches cut into slivers that he’d painted previously, so before David started, he found some tacks to fix them to this rather interesting stump.

David gave the stump and discs two coats of exterior varnish, and they certainly look good.  Quite a talking point.

Ian and Uncle Mattock.While David then carried on painting the beds with that green outdoor paint we love, Ian and I started working on the area that will house the bikes when in use.

We’d thought long and hard about this, and after much discussion it was agreed that we’d move that bed and site the bikes here in front of the wooden shed.  Its near to the ‘main’ seating area outside the metal shed, so tea-drinkers can laugh at cyclists!

We needed a pretty even surface to put the bikes up -they’re not that stable unless they’re firmly sat on ground that doesn’t move.

For this reason, we raided the store of small stones from by the top and began hammering them down into the surface, and above left, you can see Ian with ‘Uncle Mattock’ (…A fabulous tool, this.  Every home should have one…) giving the surface ‘What For’ to compact it before we put a very thin layer soil on.Woddchipping the bike area.

Over the top of this thin layer of soil, we put a thin layer of woodchip.

Here you can see Ian and Diane with the first of quite a few barrows of woodchip, armed with rakes before spreading it out.

After we’d finished, we decided to have some ‘fun’ and bring out one of our new gazebos (…currently on offer at ‘Argos’.  Half price…) to see how they all fitted together over the new space.New Gazebos.

Here you can see two of the old ones with a new green one in the middle.  We love the way they all fit together, providing shade from the sun and shelter should it rain.

Ian and I left quite soon after this -we were both knackered, but Diane carried on tirelessly.

Hawthorn.Before leaving, I just couldn’t help but take this shot of some hawthorn just ‘going over’ by the Portaloo.

Absolutely beautiful.

Anyway, I have quite a bit to do, so I’ll have to leave it there for now, but I’ll be sure to bring another update before the ‘Main Event’ on Wednesday evening.

Of course you’re coming, right?


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